Bruce Lee's mistress hopes book will bring her peace

The actress who was at home with kung fu legend Bruce Lee when he died 30 years ago today says she was forced into a reclusive life because she thought 'the whole world' wanted her dead.

Former screen beauty Betty Ting Pei, 56, who starred in 40 films during the late 1960s and 70s, says that she can no longer carry the burden and wants to tell her side of the story.

'He died next to me, I was only 26, a young woman. Do you think I wasn't scared? No one would help me. I felt everyone wanted me to die,' she said in an interview with the Sunday Morning Post.

Lee died after being rushed to hospital from Ting's flat in Kowloon Tong. Lee had complained of a headache and Ting gave him one of her prescription painkillers before the movie star went to sleep. She was unable to wake him and he died hours later.

The media was initially told Lee had been at home with his wife, Linda, and their two children. After the cover-up was exposed, rumours were rife that Lee and Ms Ting were having an affair.

Ms Ting is now planning a tell-all book about their relationship and how the death affected her. Acclaimed American author Davis Miller, who wrote The Tao Of Bruce Lee, has reportedly agreed to co-write the book.

Ms Ting, a Shaw Brothers actress who made her last film in 1980, says: 'When you are young and beautiful you don't have a brain. I never really enjoyed working. I didn't know what I wanted. I never knew until after Bruce passed away. It changed me completely, my whole life. I just wanted to be an ordinary woman, but I could not.'

In the mid 1970s, Beijing-born Ms Ting, who was brought up as a Catholic in Taiwan before moving to Hong Kong, converted to Buddhism. She has been a regular visitor to Po Lin Monastery on Lantau and has learned to recite 3,000-word mantras by heart as part of her devotion.

'After living a quiet Buddhist life, I have to go back to society,' she says. 'I have to write my book. I'm still not totally sure I should do it. I will be laying myself totally naked to people. But I have Buddha in my heart.

'I want to walk on my own, I don't want to carry Bruce any more as I have for 30 years.'

Ms Ting says she realises the book will reopen old wounds and stir controversy. Lee's widow Linda has always scoffed at suggestions her husband was unfaithful.

'People are crazy about Bruce Lee. He was special to them. He is not a normal human being, he has become a perfect man,' says Ms Ting. 'Whatever you say, not everyone will agree with you or like you. People only understand him through martial arts.

'Actually, I want to write something about me, so that through me people can understand why Bruce chose me. I feel Bruce is still in me.

'But I'm a normal human being. Even after 30 years people will not let me go. They won't let me have peace.'

Ms Ting says she was upset by the many rumours and books purporting to tell the truth about their relationship and the circumstances of Lee's death.

'I think I should just tell the truth, how I look at the whole thing,' she says.

'Everybody will go through difficulties. Maybe it will help others to get through their problems if they learn about my experience,' added Ms Ting, who had a daughter by movie mogul Charles Heung Wah-keung after Lee's death.

The pair were sentenced to jail after being convicted of adultery by a Taiwan court but later cleared on appeal.

She has not married since the relationship ended in the 1970s.

'I always have to carry Bruce's name. I want release. Maybe after I write the book, people will accept me. I know there are things you should and shouldn't do. Everyone makes mistakes.

'Experience is the most important thing. Money can never buy it. Once I had this feeling that the whole world wanted me to die, I had to survive. I felt bad, but I'm so happy I can at last release myself. I have to explain to people that I'm not what they think.'